Happy Sunlighter Sunday! We’re dropping our newsletter a few hours early because it’s Grammy’s night, and we have predictions on the night’s most coveted awards: Best New Artist, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year. Additionally, we touch on industry updates – the biggest beefs of the week are UMG vs. TikTok and Nicki Minaj vs. Megan Thee Stallion.
Rating Rationale: Radiohead fans, you probably already know. But if you don’t, we have a treat for you. Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood joined forces with Tom Skinner (Sons of Kemet) in 2020 to work on The Smile, a new project that’s since yielded them two albums, most recently Wall Of Eyes. The sophomore album is comprised of eight tracks, showcasing a series of warped melancholy, psychedelic soundscapes–familiar to Radiohead’s authentic sound. While the album flows together seamlessly and the production is strong, we think it drowns out (and occasionally overpowers) the lyricism. Our favorite tracks from the album are “Read The Room” and “Under Our Pillows.”
Our picks for the 2024 GRAMMYs
Courtesy of the Recording Academy® / Getty Images ©
*Note: The eligibility period for this year’s Grammy Awards was between October 1, 2022 and September 15, 2023.
Best New Artist: This category recognizes a game-changing, upcoming artist in the music industry who has marked a significant breakthrough in public consciousness. For us, this one is a toss-up between 2 trailblazing artists we’ve covered in the last year: Noah Kahan and Fred again… We think Noah Kahan is slated to take home the big prize. After all, it was “the season of the sticks.”
Record of the Year: This category recognizes the overall excellence in a single recording, including performance, production, and artistic achievement. It should be a standout track that made a significant impact, representing the pinnacle of sonic achievement within the music industry. This year, we think this honor goes to “Flowers,” by Miley Cyrus. The record was produced by 2023 Album of the Year Harry’s House collaborators, Tyler Johnson and Kid Harpoon, and it led global streaming numbers with 1.16 billion total streams in 2023.
Song of the Year: This category is dedicated to exceptional songwriting, recognizing how the impact and artistic merit (composition, lyrics, and overall musicality) emphasize the enduring power of a song’s narrative and melody. We think Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero” is filled with lyrical gems that make it more than deserving of this win. “Wow I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror. Fire line.” - A live quote from Chris Xu in our group text shortly after its release.
Album of the Year: This category recognizes the overall excellence of an entire album; it encapsulates the cohesive body of work, acknowledging the artist’s ability to deliver a compelling and cohesive musical narrative across multiple tracks. After being snubbed at the Grammys for Ctrl and Best New Artist back in 2018, SZA returns as the year’s most-nominated artist with nine total nominations. This year, we think her third studio album, SOS, will take home the most coveted honor of the night. It would be a historic win–the last Black woman to win this honor was Lauryn Hill in 1999.
Dead & Company share The Sphere residency, Billy Joel drops first song in 17 years
Deadheads, rejoice. Dead & Company will play a six-show residency at The Sphere in Las Vegas. We can only imagine what kind of wild, immersive experience that will entail. In a different musical realm, Billy Joel returns from a 17-year hiatus with a new single, “Turn the Lights Back On.” We have to say, the Piano Man is still at the top of his game, and the track is a brilliant return for the legendary artist.
Joni Mitchell at the Hollywood Bowl, Lana goes…country?
Speaking of legendary singer-songwriters, Joni Mitchell, will not only perform at tonight’s Grammy Awards, but she’s slated to showcase her timeless musical prowess throughout two shows at the Hollywood Bowl this fall.
Lana Del Rey unveiled plans to drop a country album later this year called Lasso, adding a new dimension to her discography. She’s been seemingly hinting at this for a while now, especially with the release of her John Denver cover, “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” which is excellent 👌🏼
Boygenius announces hiatus
The supergroup boygenius, comprising of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus, reportedly announced a hiatus during a secret show in Los Angeles. Given the critical acclaim of their most recent Grammy-nominated album, the record, to say we’re surprised is an understatement.
Usher drops Coming Home tracklist ahead of Halftime show, Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion take turns with diss tracks
Usher is Coming Home just before his Super Bowl Halftime performance, with the new album set to drop on February 9. Last week, he unveiled the tracklist, including features from Burna Boy, 21 Savage, H.E.R., Latto, Summer Walker, Pheelz, and Jung Kook. He also revealed that at one point, he, Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, and Diddy were all meant to become a supergroup. Maybe they’ll reunite at the 50-yard line…
Through the releases of “Hiss” and “Big Foot,” Megan Thee Stallion and Nicki Minaj are in the midst of a war of diss tracks. More on the timeline and series of events here.
Charli XCX returns to Boiler Room, Adele announces Munich residency, Ariana Grande shares Eternal Sunshine release date, Halsey's fifth album Easter eggs
Charli XCX has announced her return to Boiler Room with a star-studded lineup, including A.G. Cook, George Daniel (her fiancé from the 1975), and more. Tickets haven’t dropped yet, but you can expect the event to occur on February 22. It sounds like Britney Spears’ recent tweet is a perfect nod to the theme of XCX6.
Adele is wasting no time this year. After her massively successful Weekends With Adele Las Vegas Residency wraps in June, the phenomenon is headed to Munich for another series of eight performances in a pop-up stadium built just for her. Lastly, she confirmed plans for a world tour in support of her upcoming album (!!) marking her return to the global stage.
Ariana Grande has unveiled artwork and a partial tracklist for her upcoming album, Eternal Sunshine (the title is likely a nod to her love for Jim Carrey), to be released on March 8. Meanwhile, fans have found a mysterious website they believe is tied to Halsey’s fifth studio album, with Easter eggs on potential upcoming tracks.
⚔️ UMG vs. TikTok: Universal Music Group shocked the world this week by pulling their song catalog from TikTok, a major blow to the social media company and an obvious indicator of shifting tides within the music industry. UMG accused TikTok of building a “music-based business without paying fair value for artists’ music.” In an open letter addressed to TikTok on Tuesday, UMG brought up three primary grievances that led to the decision:
Inappropriate artist and songwriter compensation, in which TikTok proposed paying only a fraction of the rate other social media platforms pay
Allowing AI-generated recordings and music creation, which dilutes the royalty pool for human artists and “sponsors artist replacement”
Lack of effort in offering solutions to promote safety on their platform, specifically addressing issues with hate speech, bigotry, bullying, and harassment on the TikTok platform
🎶 MusicFX: Google unveiled an upgrade to their MusicLM generative AI tool that allows for higher-quality and faster music generation. You can access this tool on Google’s AI Test Kitchen app.
🔀 PlaylistGPT: Napster, yes Napster, has released a new feature dubbed, “PlaylistGPT,” which allows anyone to create a music playlist and accompanying AI-generated artwork through a simple ChatGPT prompt.
🌐 Web3 Updates: Catalog dropped new functionalities, including Catalog Radio and cosigns, allowing users to experience music together with artists while providing a new way for users to pay artists during live broadcasts. Our friends at Water & Music dropped an emerging tech starter pack for independent artists.
🤖 The AI Music Market: According to a recent study commissioned by collective management organizations, SACEM and GEMA, AI is predicted to prompt a 27% shortfall in music creator revenues and the generative AI music market will hit $3.1 billion by 2028.
🇬🇧 Streaming Transparency: The UK government announced a new commitment to increasing streaming platform transparency by enforcing a new code that ensures musicians are entitled to transparent streaming royalties.
💰 Securing the Bag: Artist creative services platform, gamma, has raised $100M more in funding, led by Alpha Wave Global. Believe acquired India-based White Hill Music for an undisclosed amount.
Vultures next week, Schoolboy Q will be dropping a new album
📅 For upcoming albums, tours, and festivals, access our comprehensive music calendar here.
📣 Album Announcements: Schoolboy Q plans to drop Blue Lips on March 1, and Ice Spice says her upcoming album, Y2K, is almost done and set to release this year.
⏩ Here are album releases to look out for this week:
¥$, Vultures (no more delays hopefully?)
Usher, COMING HOME
Declan McKenna, What Happened To The Beach?
Shygirl, Club Shy
Zara Larsson, Venus
Madi Diaz, Weird Faith
Little Simz, Drop 7
Yellowcard, A Hopeful Sign
MadeinTYO, TYO 808
Sonic Youth, Walls Have Ears
Fivio Foreign, Pain & Love 2
French Montana, Mac & Cheese 5
The Merch Table
🎸 Boygenius Guitar: If you want a memento from this era of boygenius, the supergroup unveiled a signed signature Gretsch guitar, adding a distinctive touch to their musical collaboration.
🎟️ Lawnie Pass 2024: Live Nation announced a $239 lawn pass, which guarantees ticketholders access to unlimited lawn seating throughout summer 2024 across 25 participating amphitheaters.
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